By Valerie Vinyard
It takes someone exceptional to run one of the largest nonprofits in Tucson.
Fortunately for Intermountain Centers for Human Development, President and CEO Rose Lopez appears to have things well in hand.
Though Intermountain reported a $30 million budget last year, many Tucsonans are unfamiliar with the 45-year-old organization. Its 20 or so wide-ranging community, foster care and residential programs, however, profoundly impact hundreds of people with mental illnesses and their families each month.
Lopez started with Intermountain in 2004 as CFO, then served as executive VP before taking the helm in 2016. She oversees a staff of nearly 400.
“Rose is a leader that this organization has been waiting for,” said Jessica Reese, chief clinical director for Intermountain. “She has her finger on the pulse where behavioral healthcare is going. She has business savvy – and she has a heart.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one out of five people are affected by mental health and developmental conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism.
Since its inception, Intermountain has developed a variety of programs and services for all ages and ethnicities. That includes home-based and out-of-home support for emotionally and behaviorally challenged children, adults with serious mental illness and people with developmental disabilities. Its various programs in Tucson include four group homes, about 120 foster homes and apartments with daily support from staff.
About five years ago, Intermountain entered the education sector, serving Tucson children with specialized academic and behavioral needs, including autism spectrum disorder.
Lopez said she grew up with many of the same challenges faced by Intermountain’s current members. However, she was fortunate to be raised by a strong single parent and with strong community support. “If you have a strong community and a healthy family, you can be successful,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately, that’s not always a given. For those who don’t have that support, Intermountain is here.”